Rio Ferdinand has announced the tragic death of his wife Rebecca Ellison at the age of 34. The 36-year-old Queens Park Rangers footballer, who has three children Lorenz, Tate and Tia with his wife of six years, released a moving statement on Saturday morning saying that Rebecca had passed away following a short battle with cancer.
"My soul mate slipped away last night," said Rio. "Rebecca, my wonderful wife, passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. She was a fantastic loving mother to our three beautiful children. She will be missed as a wife, sister, aunt, daughter and granddaughter.
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Rio Ferdinand and Rebecca Ellison pictured in 2009
"She will live on in our memory, as a guide and inspiration. Myself, my parents Janice and Julian, along with Rebecca's parents Lesley and Stephen, would like to thank our families, friends and my club colleagues who have rallied around in these desperate days, weeks and months.
"I would also like to express my gratitude for the dedication and expertise of the staff led by Professors Johnstone and Clarke at the Royal Marsden. Their valiant efforts to prolong Rebecca's all-too-short life will not be forgotten. Our grief, as a family, is total. We would appreciate being allowed to mourn privately."
Gary Lineker, a long-time colleague of Rio's posted a message on Twitter for his friend: "Thoughts are with Rio Ferdinand and his family. How dreadfully sad."
Jeff Brazier, who lost his ex-girlfriend Jade Goody to cancer in 2009, simply tweeted: "I'm so so sorry @rioferdy5."
"The thoughts of all of us at BT Sport are with Rio Ferdinand & his children Tia, Tate and Lorenz after the heartbreaking death of his wife," wrote Rio's fellow football presenter Jake Humphrey.
This Morning host Eamonn Holmes also sent his condolences to Rio, writing: "Such sad news to wake up to... The Death of @rioferdy5 's wife Rebecca after a short fight with Cancer. Condolences."